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    Save water in your brewery? Yes, you can!

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    An ever-growing number of breweries strive to achieve not only optimum energy consumption levels, they also take a long hard look at how much water they use. Steinecker joins forces with them in order to develop a customised Water Sustainability Concept, a holistic step-by-step plan aimed at saving water.

    Jochen Löfflad from Steinecker’s sales team firmly believes that “even though water is still frequently a niche issue at present, it will become the focus of attention in future. In view of the rising pressure on costs and their carbon-emission targets, many breweries are currently concentrating their efforts on making best possible use of thermal and electrical energy. But the number of companies that also set themselves ambitious goals for reducing water consumption is steadily increasing. We’ve therefore put together a suitable tool box well in advance.”

    The reasons prompting breweries to optimise their water use are many and varied, ranging from the sustainability philosophy they pursue and cost pressure right through to perceptible water shortage. “Deliberations vary considerably from region to region,” explains Thilo Steindorf, one of Jochen Löfflad’s colleagues. “We know of certain breweries in Central America, for example, that don’t have enough water even now and must therefore cut back production.”

    Image 39345
    From the left: Together with their colleagues in Steinecker’s sales team, Thilo Steindorf and Jochen Löfflad support breweries in their efforts to implement water-saving concepts in their production operation.

    At present, a typical brewery equipped with state-of-the-art Steinecker kit needs about three to 3.5 litres of water per litre of beer sold, just under one litre for the product itself, and another two to 2.5 litres for producing and filling it. That value, which experts state in hectolitres of water per hectolitre of sales-quality beer, can be reduced to less than two, says Thilo Steindorf: “We’re meanwhile getting invitations to tender specifying KPIs of smaller than two.” And a great deal has already been achieved in the past. You see, typical consumption levels in 2000 still came to six hectolitres of water per hectolitre of sales-quality beer.

    We know of certain breweries in Central America that don’t have enough water even now and must therefore cut back production. Erwin HächlThilo SteindorfHead of Steinecker Sales

    Reaching your goal with a custom-fit step-by-step approach

    Brewhouse, cellars and filling halls are the three biggest water consumers in a brewery. The container type handled is one of the elements directly affecting the amount of water used in the filling operation. The Krones team offers perfectly optimised solutions here while the experts at Steinecker concentrate on the brewery.

    The main areas where water is needed in a brewery (apart from the amount used for the beer itself) are flushing, heating and cooling. The latter two play a paramount role in fine-tuning energy consumption. But a great deal of water can be saved when it comes to flushing. The typical consumption figures achieved today in a representative plant with state-of-the-art equipment in brewhouse and cellar are 1.1 and 0.8 hectolitres of water respectively per hectolitre of sales-quality beer. These values can be reduced even further by a series of measures suitable for both greenfield projects and retrofit jobs.

    The options available in the modularised system which Steinecker uses to develop a customised water-saving plan in collaboration with the brewery are many and varied. “The primary consideration for drawing up a suitable Water Sustainability Concept is the investment costs, which have to fit into the customer’s medium- and long-term planning,” explains Jochen Löfflad. “That’s why we tackle the issue from two sides: First we tap unused potential with easy-to-implement measures and then offer innovative technologies for further optimisation. We specify a schedule together with the brewery and implement perhaps two modules in the first year, then another one in the next year – advancing step by step.”

    “A great deal can be achieved with comparatively simple means,” explains Löfflad. He then refers to a greenfield project implemented in East Africa five years ago. “The brewery makes one type of beer. It uses the high-gravity brewing process and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We were able to achieve water consumption figures of less than two hectolitres per hectolitre of sales-quality beer in the brewhouse and cold block alone, entirely without any additional water-saving modules. And that does not even include the filling operation.”

    Die Module zur Wassereinsparung im Überblick

    Water Sustainability Concept – the details

    Stage one: save water

    The Water Sustainability Concept’s first and simplest stage is to use smaller amounts right from the start. Improvements in production planning result in fewer interruptions and product change-overs, which cuts the number of flushing routines and thus water consumption. By focusing production on the main types and brewing beers with similar recipes and the same type of yeast sequentially, breweries can reduce the number of CIP cleaning routines and amounts of water needed.

    In the brewhouse, changing over to the high-gravity process makes for substantial savings. In it, beer with a higher original extract is brewed, and water is added as needed prior to filling. As a result, for 100 hectolitres of sales-quality beer, a smaller amount of water will pass through the initial brewing process, thus reducing energy consumption, water waste in the brewhouse and the amount of water needed for flushing. “There has been a markedly growing trend towards high gravity over the past 20 years, primarily among large breweries all around the globe,” explains Thilo Steindorf. “Some plants have even maxed out that process, so they now have only half the sales quantity in their brewhouse.”

    Stage two: re-use water

    During change-overs to a different product and between different production batches, a large amount of flushing water is passed through tanks and pipes, which is frequently discharged as effluent even though most of it is clean enough to be passed back into the product or the flushing system. “Re-using water isn’t sorcery – you just have to do it,” says Jochen Löfflad. It is relatively easy to retrofit the collecting vessels, recovered-water tanks and pipes you need for that.

    Re-using water isn’t sorcery – you just have to do it. Erwin HächlJochen LöffladSteinecker Sales

    Steinecker has developed a “No drains open” approach for the brewhouse. That means that during production water flows only into the beer, the spent grains and the vapour condensate (that is, vapour from the wort boiler). “The kit is flushed between batches of a production run, and the water used for that is frequently discharged to the drains even though it is ultra-clean and should go back into the product,” explains Thilo Steindorf. “And this equally applies for the breweries flushing the pipes into the cellar after every brew: that water can also flow back into the product.” Weak wort and trub are likewise re-used. Weak wort is just what its name suggests and can be directly used for the next product batch. As for the trub of wort boiling, protein and hops constituents must first be removed, and then it, too, can be passed back into the product.

    With its Intelligent Water Recovery Concept, Steinecker has found a solution for the cellar similar to the “No drains open” approach. At present, relatively small amounts of water are recovered there, so the IWRC offers huge savings potential. “After a CIP routine, all pipes in the cellar are filled with brewing liquor, and they are flushed with expensive deaerated water prior to production,” says Steindorf. “Both the brewing liquor expelled and the flushing water are much too valuable for the drain.” The cold, oxygen-free water is particularly suitable for mashing, where it reduces the oxygen content and enhances beer quality. Up to 20 per cent water can be saved that way.


    Stage three: treat water

    The final stepping stone on the path to minimum water consumption is water treatment. It is the largest item in terms of investment costs and makes particular sense for breweries that operate their own wastewater treatment plant. By retrofitting it with Krones’ HydroCircle concept, breweries can turn wastewater into process water that can be used mainly for all CIP routines. To implement this system, a brewery must have two completely separate water networks, one for brewing liquor and one for process water. “A plant whose water consumption has been optimised has about 60 per cent product water and 40 per cent process water. So water treatment offers quite a sizeable potential,” says Jochen Löfflad. “That’s why I would advise any brewery doing a greenfield project to invest in a second water network right from the start, even if water treatment is not immediately planned. When erecting a new plant, the outlay for the second network is manageable and taking the step towards water treatment will subsequently be relatively easy. Moreover, the process water network can be used at least for mains water, and the system pre-treating mains water for use in brewing can be correspondingly smaller.”

    I would advise any brewery doing a greenfield project to invest in a second water network right from the start, even if water treatment is not immediately planned. Erwin HächlJochen LöffladSteinecker Sales

    So you can certainly save a lot of water in your brewery. Even simple steps prove very effective. Thanks to the modularised approach developed by Steinecker, companies can invest in their sustainable water management program step by step. Just the measures aimed at saving and re-using water can reduce consumption to 2.5 hectolitres of water per hectolitre of sales-quality beer. And in breweries additionally investing in wastewater treatment, the amount of water they will in the end use in production will be less than that going into their beers.

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